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March 23, 2011
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Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd
by Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

A Meditation

For most people who like to pray the psalms, Psalm 23 is clearly a favorite. In this E-spiration, my prayer is that, with the gracious help of the Holy Spirit, we may each come to a fuller understanding of this psalm.

May we be drawn, like a humble lamb, to trust the good shepherd, who watches over us with total love. May this popular psalm become for us a prayer of simple trust!

"The Lord is my shepherd..."

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

The first line suggests that the Lord will fulfill all of our needs and desires. As the psalm goes on for verse after verse, we sense that the shepherd’s goodness toward us is growing more and more generous—to the point of overflowing.

"In green pastures he gives me repose..."

"In green pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his namesake."

The good shepherd wants us to experience a profound sense of inner peace and refreshment because he is watching out for us.

"Even though I walk in the dark valley..."

"Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff that give me courage."

All of a sudden, we leave behind the “he” language: “he leads,” “he refreshes” and “he guides.” And we begin to use “you” language: “you” are at my side,” “your rod” and “your staff” give me courage. It’s no longer “he” and “me,” but now “you” and “me.” The shepherd has become most intimate with the sheep—an intimacy that grows ever stronger.

"You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes..."

"You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."

The good shepherd becomes the greatest of hosts, showing us two wonderful signs of hospitality: He spreads a rich table—a banquet—before me. Then he anoints my head with oil, and my cup overflows. The Lord’s generous hospitality grows ever more abundant. As Christians, we see in the richly spread table a foreshadowing of the Eucharist and of the heavenly banquet.

"Only goodness and kindness follow me..."

"Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come."

We move from the experience of our present lives into what we call the heavenly Kingdom, “the end times” or “eschatological times”—the era of peace or salvation that we all seek.

A Final Reflection: The Totality of God’s Love

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Friar Jim's Inbox
Readers respond to Friar Jim Van Vurst's March E-spiration, Catechism Quiz: Seed Planted Comes to Life

Friar Jim: My name is Tomy, and I’m from New Delhi. Warm wishes and prayers as you reach a milestone in your priestly vocation. I was deeply impressed and reflected about my own childhood in Kerala, India. My Holy Communion and Confirmation were at a Catholic church in India. Tomy

Friar Jim: Congratulations on the upcoming 50th anniversary of your ordination. How blessed was the planted seed that inspired you to enter the Franciscan Order and become a priest! Marion

Friar Jim: Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. May God bless you further in your ministry. I also remember being a “torchbearer,” an apprentice of sorts, before becoming a full-fledged server for Mass and other celebrations. At 86, I reflect back on that most happy period of my life. John

Dear Tomy, Marion and John: Thanks to all for your anniversary wishes, and for those special graced moments in your lives. Friar Jim

Send your feedback to friarjack@franciscanmedia.org

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Welcome!
I am Friar Jack Wintz, and I hope you'll enjoy all of the news about what's happening at AmericanCatholic.org as well as my own “Musings.” By the way, I am a real Franciscan friar, as is my co-worker, Friar Jim.
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